Jonah is a bit of teenage genius. As a science project for his
high school psychology class he’s rebuilding an old Wollensak tape recorder
he found so that it will mimic the auditory world of his autistic twin sister
Charlie. Jonah’s parents are at the end of their rope dealing with the constant
care that Charlie requires at home. Ben wants to try a new therapist, supposedly
a genius, a wonderworker. He believes there is hope for a cure, improvement, something.
Sarah does not. She believes in her ability as Charlie’s mother to keep
her from harm and nurture her in the home.
Jonah has a very intimate connection with his autistic sister. Ben and Sarah are
so busy coping with Charlie that Jonah is pretty much on his own in this very
charged and frightening world. His only solace is his close connection with Charlie
and his ability to calm her and comfort her with his weird and prolific storytelling
skills. And he has discovered that he can calm Charlie down by putting her in
a very small crowded place like a closet filled with stuffed pillows.
When Ben and Sarah try to sneak a moment of intimacy and sex they are defeated
and deeply embarrased when Jonah shows up in their bedroom in the middle of their
spirited foreplay. Jonah forgot that Charlie was under her parents’ bed
in her new tight place and he has come to get her. That’s the final straw
for Sarah. Ben brings in the new therapist who is very unconventional and scary
at first but seems to have a way with Charlie. Jonah is angry and suspicious.
Jonah’s world is further unbalanced by a new girlfriend Sally who wants
his time, attention and allegience. With his parents out, he is alone with a girl
in his apartment for the first time in his teenage life and things are getting
very intimate when Charlie interferes. Jonah tries unsuccessfully to keep the
lid on Charlie, but he can’t. Sally leaves unable to cope with Jonah’s
Charlie’s theraptist begins to get results with her. As much as Jonah wants
Charlie to get well, he cannot let go of his place in her life. He is resentful
of Charlie’s new attachment to her therapist and fears he is losing her.
He acts out by rigging his parents’ bedroom as a sensory nightmare using
auditory and visual stimulii that simulate autism. Things are getting out of hand.
Jonah and Sally meet by cahnce in the park, but Jonah is so wrapped up in his
problems, he can not see the lifeline that Sally is throwing him.
When Jonah’s therapist tries to take Charlie away temporarily, Jonah snaps.
He attacks the therapist and hurts her badly. In return Charlie’s therapist
gets Charlie out of the house indefinitely, but she tells Ben and Sarah that it
was Charlie who attacked her, not Jonah. She is protecting them both now from
their toxic environment.
Now Jonah is truly alone. Sally comes to visit him, but he is deeply depressed
and distant. She tries to reach him, but he withdraws into Charlie’s closet
filled with stuffed pillows and hides in her tight place.
Jonah’s own healing process has just begun.